Zed, also known for now as Elder Jensen (Vanhin Jensen in Finnish), is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Finland Helsinki Mission. He entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on October 29, 2014, where he will study the gospel and the Finnish language for nine weeks, after which he’ll head to Finland to serve the rest of his two years as a full-time missionary. This blog will host his letters or excerpts from letters, photos, and other reports we might get about him. It’s maintained by his mom Erin and his brother Phin, with help from his dad Jon, brothers Jacob and Seth, and sisters Lillian and Mira.
An Explanation of Full-Time LDS Missions
Many LDS young adults serve full-time missions for the church. At 18 or older, they can choose to submit papers indicating their desire to serve, after which they are issued a call from the First Presidency of our church. The prospective missionary has no idea where he or she will be called—there are currently more than 400 missions all over the world and a missionary can be called to any one of them. Many missions require learning a foreign language, even some in the missionary’s home country. For the duration of their missions, missionaries are official representatives of the church and focus exclusively on preaching the gospel and serving others.
Each mission is headed by a president and his wife. Missionaries work as pairs with others of the same sex, called companions; the mission president changes companionships roughly every few months. Missionaries’ communication with family and friends is limited to weekly emails and letters and twice-yearly phone calls with immediate family (on Christmas and Mother’s Day) and they don’t work to earn money, date, go to movies, watch TV, read for entertainment, or go to school. They or their family usually finance the mission themselves—they are not paid for their service. It sounds pretty rigorous and grueling, and it kind of is, but it’s a unique opportunity to dedicate oneself to the gospel and service.